It was an odd decision for Dolphins Quarterback not to go under the knife this off-season to repair a partially torn ACL in his left knee. Who knows his motives, but I suspect he made a calculated decision in the name of decreasing his chances of missing playing time, therefore decreasing the chances he might end up losing his job.
If that’s the case, consider it a decision that backfired horribly.
Dolphins have an easy out
Say what you will about Tannehill as a Quarterback – personally I tend to think he’d a tad underrated – but perception around the league is pretty mixed. I bet if you were to poll x number of league execs, the consensus would be he’s somewhere in the 12-16 range of QBs. While that’s not enough to get many people excited, it’s not too shabby either. Let’s not forget the entry price for “having a season” in the NFL is a starting caliber Quarterback, and I find it hard to debate Tannehill isn’t at least that.
But let’s face facts – the guy has dealt with injuries for the past two years now, and the Dolphins can save $15.2m of his $19.8m cap hit in 2018. For a so-so Quarterback coming off a missed season and major knee surgery, all of a sudden this has to be taken as a very real possibility.
Cutler’s relationship with Adam Gase is already well documented, so the move makes a lot more sense than bringing in some scrub which likely results in the season being written-off before it even begins. But on the other hand, even if Cutler plays well, what’s the ceiling for the Dolphins this season? They may have overachieved slightly reaching the 10-win mark last season, and without a top tier defense it seems unlikely to me Cutler can step in and take the team any further.
But, Gase is a young second-year head coach building off an impressive rookie season. He’s hungry to continue winning and has faith in a player he had some success with in the past, so the team was never going to write the season off.
The Dolphins are going to have some interesting decisions to make after this season. If Cutler plays well enough, I certainly think there’s a great chance he’s brought back for another year. If the team regresses, he’ll retire – again – and the team has to decide whether they’re back in the Tannehill game or it’s time to move on.
If Miami are thinking big, they may try to pursue Drew Brees who is likely going to be hitting free agency at the end of this season. With Tannehill’s salary off the books and the release of Byron Maxwell, the Dolphins would have close to $30m in cap space to make a run. Who knows, maybe they’ll even be one of the teams in the running for Kirk Cousins should the Redskins place the transition tag on him.